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MIT's von Maltzahn Recognized for Nanomedicine Research

by Editor1 last modified January 20, 2010 - 00:50

Geoffrey von Maltzahn, 29. of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is among the winners of 2009 Collegiate Inventors Competition. von Maltzahn won for his advances in nanomedicine to increase the effectiveness of cancer drugs. The competition a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame sponsored by the Abbott Fund, the non-profit foundation of the global health care company Abbott, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

MIT's von Maltzahn Recognized for Nanomedicine Research

Geoffrey von Maltzahn, 29. MIT is among the winners of 2009 Collegiate Inventors Competition for his work in nanomedicine. He is also a contributor to T&F's Nanotechnology for Cancer Therapy.

Judges from the competition said von Maltzahn's work "turns what may be a new page in nanomedicine," citing his method of using a pair of nanoparticles that work together in an innovative way to increase the effectiveness and lower the side effects of existing cancer drugs.

Powerful cancer-killing drugs are well-known to science and widely used in clinical medicine, but since these drugs are also highly toxic to healthy cells, targeting drugs specifically to tumors has been a major focus in cancer research. Of late, much of this drug-targeting research has looked at using nanoparticles to carry the drugs to tumors. A major challenge, however, is that cancer cells, and the tumors they may form, have a finite numbers of targets to which nanoparticles can attach—and since a given nanoparticle can carry only a small drug payload, this limits the amount of drug that can be delivered.

In von Maltzahn's approach, one set of nanoparticles lodge in a tumor's blood vessels and cause local bleeding. The bleeding prompts clotting factors to be produced, which in turn, attracts a second set of nanoparticles that have been programmed to be attracted to the clotting factors and that deliver a cancer drug. The use of the clotting factors dramatically increases the number of targets for the drug-carrying particles. Raised first in Arlington, Texas and then Fairfax, Virginia, von Maltzahn received degrees from MIT and the University of California, San Diego before beginning his current work on a Ph.D. in medical engineering and physics.

All student entries were scrutinized during an initial evaluation process by over 20 experts from industry, government, and academic research who judged the entries on the originality of the idea and the potential value and usefulness of the invention to society. Then, on October 19th, nine chosen finalists presented their inventions to a final panel of seven judges, including five inductees from the National Inventors Hall of Fame and representatives from the USPTO and Abbott.

About the Collegiate Inventors Competition
James West, a final phase judge and an inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame said, "Once again, we're impressed by the outstanding caliber of the student inventions. We encourage college students to celebrate invention as part of their science and technology research, and we're also looking forward to seeing the impact of their work as they progress. I know that all the judges join me in commending these students."

The prominent group of judges for this year's competition includes five National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees: C. Donald Bateman (Ground Proximity Warning System), Robert Bower (self-aligned gate MOSFET), Edith Flanigen (molecular sieves), Rangaswamy Srinivasan (excimer laser surgery), and James West (electret microphone). In addition, the judging panel includes Jeffrey Pan, Associate Director, Scientific Informatics and Automation, Global Pharmaceutical Discovery from Abbott, and Jasemine Chambers, Group Director of Industrial Design from the USPTO.

"Abbott is proud to again be part of this competition that showcases innovation and foster broader understanding of science," explained Jeffrey Pan, Associate Director, Scientific Informatics and Automation, Global Pharmaceutical Discovery, Abbott. "Through our support of the competition, Abbott hopes to help inspire today's science students who may go on to find tomorrow's cures and treatments for the world's most serious diseases and health care challenges."

"The United States Patent and Trademark Office is pleased to be part of this outstanding young inventor recognition program," USPTO Director David Kappos commented. "Maintaining America's technological edge is vitally important in today's world economy. The highly talented and creative collegiate inventors who participated this year renew my confidence that this nation's innovative tradition will continue to endure. I congratulate all of the 2009 winners and wish them well in their future endeavors."